Jonathan Buick and I, Lana Moore from Action Renewables travelled to Malawi for a 10-day site visit. After overnight travelling from Belfast we were welcomed at Lilongwe airport by the staff from Children of the Nations. We were then provided with a warm welcome and given a tour around the campus at Njewa. The Njewa campus at Children of the Nations received funding from Action Renewables to install a new battery system to be charged from the grid and used at times as necessary due to frequent power outages. Power outages are a common occurrence in Malawi and the help provided by Action Renewables to install batteries is vitally important to the campus and the children being taught there. It was great to see this first hand and the impact that it is having at the campus.
We were then treated to a welcome programme by the Village Partnership programme children in Mtsiliza and Mtsiliza Madalisto widows group. We thoroughly enjoyed a performance by the children and widows to dancing, music and singing. We had an opportunity to introduce ourselves to the group and hand out food to the children. The next day we used our extensive knowledge to deliver various lessons on numerous renewable technologies and were able to demonstrate this by showing the children how solar PV works. We then travelled to the village Chilombo and were again kindly welcomed by the children there where the Boys Hive and Girls Power groups delivered astonishing performances. Our last day at Children of the Nations was spent at their orphanage called Chitipi Home. We had an opportunity to meet the staff, children, play football and have a tour of the orphanage.
The second leg of the trip took us to Mulanje Mission Hospital located in the Southern Region of Malawi. Action Renewables provided funding to the hospital to help towards the cost of installing solar photovoltaics. The generation that is produced by the solar panels is stored using batteries and reduces the need for the hospital to use their diesel generator resulting in the hospital lowering their emissions and decreasing operational costs. With the power outages that are frequent in Malawi it is vitally important to have a system in place so that the life saving medical equipment can still be operational. We were given a tour of the hospital by the Medical Director Arie and given a demonstration of how the solar and battery system at the hospital has made a massive difference to the patients and staff there. Mulanje is one of the most densely populated districts in Malawi and Mulanje Mission Hospital not only supports the hospital but also the local community. We had an opportunity to visit some of the amazing work that the hospital is involved in such as Sikoya irrigation scheme, meet farmers, primary schools, and see a demonstration of the cookstove project.
Before leaving for Belfast Jim McDowell from Children of the Nations joined us and we were able to meet 3 students that were training to be midwives at Mulanje Mission Hospital that were raised and educated by Children of the Nations. This was a nice end to our site visit and brought full circle the excellent work that Mulanje Mission Hospital and Children of the Nations are doing for the people in Malawi.
‘As the Liaison officer for Children of the Nations I had the pleasure of accompanying the team from Action Renewables to our partners in Malawi and seeing first hand the impact of the visit. First of all the difference which renewable energy has made to the campus is incredible, no more does the sound of a dirty diesel generator thunder during power cuts as the new battery backup provides clean energy for 10 hours during power outages. Our computer lab is now always available for students to work and lights are reliable in the evenings to name but two huge differences. The team were very involved in our programmes, they took the time to visit the children observing their cultural dances and beautiful choirs, they even helped to dish out meals in our village feeding programme. They also took time to teach the young people in our secondary school all about solar and renewable energy, a rapidly growing industry in Malawi with great potential for employment. Our partners in Malawi were greatly encouraged by the visit and amazed that an organization like Action Renewables would show such an interest in what they are doing. We are so grateful to Jonathan, Lana and the whole team at AR for the difference they have already made.’ Jim McDowell, Liaison Officer, Children of the Nations.
‘Zikomo’ – ‘Thank you’ in Chichewa